Chelan County Looking At Ways To Stem Overcrowding In Enchantments
Chelan County is in the process of trying to mitigate several issues that are being caused by overcrowding in The Enchantments area near Leavenworth.
The trail system has been a hotspot with locals for many decades but has recently exploded in popularity due to the rise of social media.
The huge volume of tourists that's now visiting the rugged and remote location every summer is creating an annual swell in calls for emergency services and rescues.
On Monday, the County held a workshop to exchange ideas about how it might address the concerns that included members of its sheriff's office and public works department, along with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, and several local backcountry groups.
Chelan County Commissioner Shon Smith, who was in attendance at the meeting, says one idea rose to the top of what the County might do to more immediately ease the problem.
"The top idea was to set up some sort of a 'no parking' barrier that would not allow people to park on the single-lane road going into The Enchantments. So once the parking lot is full, you'd have to turn around and come out. That lot is just an old logging turnaround, so it's not designed for that level of parking."
Smith said reducing the ability for patrons to park in The Enchantments could buy the County the time it needs to implement a permanent system to limit visitation to the area.
"We're also looking at getting an electronic system where you register to go in there, just like an overnighter. Then once those permits are full, you can't go in again until the next opening becomes available."
Chelan County Emergency Management has already responded to 33 calls for service in The Enchantments this year, including six involving a helicopter; eight involving a ground search-and-rescue team; and three fatalities. Last year, there were 27 calls for service in the area and four fatalities.
Smith says the parking fixes could be implemented by as soon as the end of summer with the new registration system possibly in place by sometime next year.